Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Stand with the students and say NO to genocide

As promised, we got a new BURN IT DOWN WITH KIM BROWN today.

I would never say I expected more from Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, as that would have required me to expect anything good from him. But I still found myself surprised when he referred to the Columbia University protests against Israel’s war on Gaza as a form of “pogroms.”

Nor did I expect more from The Wall Street Journal, which ran an op-ed arguing that Hamas and Hezbollah are “working with and grooming” pro-Palestine activists. Nor from Benjamin Netanyahu, who compared the campus protests to Nazi Germany. Nor from House Speaker Mike Johnson or Anti-Defamation League President Jonathan Greenblatt, both of whom called for the National Guard to be sent to Columbia.

Yet I have been consistently taken aback at just how ridiculous these and other claims from the media and politicians about the growing pro-Palestine movement have become recently.

Politicians and the mainstream media outlets that support them are consistently simplistic in their analyses, or flat-out wrong, or, well, stupid. But over the last few weeks, it feels like the stupidity has ramped up to a level previously unreached—a level that can no longer be described as misinterpretation or obfuscation or spin, but rather as a complete detachment from reality.

And this condition of near-psychosis appears to be spreading. It’s not just the far-right that’s responding to largely peaceful protests with extreme rhetoric and action. College administrations have sent in police in riot gear to arrest peacefully demonstrating students and faculty, suspended or expelled studentscanceled graduations, and even hastily barricaded their campuses with plywood in a fashion that feels both barbaric and Wile-E.-Coyote-esque.

To understand this state of unreality, it’s important to understand that the United States and the elite media are nearly always, to some extent, in a state of unreality. We’ve known this for a while. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman outlined the process by which Americans become unwilling or unable to confront the violence endemic in American life (whether the violence of US-backed wars in other countries or the violence of corporate-backed plutocracy at home) way back in 1988.

As they argued in Manufacturing Consent, a crucial step toward enabling war is the creation of groups of worthy and unworthy victims. Chomsky and Herman were writing about Vietnam and the lack of attention paid to the millions killed in that failed war, but the same is happening today.

Since October 7, politicians and leading media outlets have made it clear, over and over again, that they consider Israeli lives to be worthier than Palestinian ones. Now, the media’s relentless focus on Columbia and other college campuses is proof in itself that it cares, and, crucially, wants us to care, more about any perceived victims of the protests in the US (even if their victimization consists of not being able to teach a class on classical music as they’d prefer), especially if they are from elite institutions, than they do about the lives of Palestinians.

This distorted reality enabled by the media—in which the supposed dangers of student organizing get significantly more coverage than the thing the protests are actually about—partially explains the unhinged reactions of the last few weeks. If one consumes only mainstream US media, one gets a very hysterical version of reality. It’s the same reason Americans think crime is going up all the time even as it falls to historic lows. Feeling constantly under threat, while ignoring people who actually are constantly under threat, is a time-honored, mass-media-enabled, American tradition.

Good article.  I stand with the students.  I have to use that phrase all the time.  I'll be getting food or taking my daughter to the zoo and some adult I don't know will want to talk to me and two our of five times it will be about Gaza and they'll be some pro-genocide freak.  I'll say, "I stand with the students."  That ends the conversation -- for which I'm glad -- and they'll walk off.  Sometimes, they'll give me a dirty look before they do.

A woman came up to my daughter and me today to say how pretty my daughter was and then starts talking about those "spoiled" students.  Spoiled?  If they were spoiled, they'd just care about themselves.  They're risking a lot to speak out.  Look at the cowards in our government.  We've had three brave adults in the State Department step down over this genocide.  The others?  They're spoiled.  They'll just stay silent to get ahead.  That's spoiled.  The students are brave.

The media has done a horrible job and it needs to be called out.  And it's not just FOX "NEWS."  It's all of them.  But, yes, as C.I. pointed out many weeks ago, on FOX "NEWS," you are pro-peace or anti-genocide or anything but "anti-Israel."  That's how they bill you.  And the mainstream media isn't much better.

CNN's Tareq Elhelou, Kareem Khadder, Zeena Saifi and Abeer Salman report:

Twenty-two people, including at least one infant and a toddler, have been killed in an Israeli airstrike over Rafah, Gaza, overnight into Monday, according to hospital officials.

The deceased were brought into Abu Youssef Al Najjar hospital in Rafah following the attack, as their loved ones gathered for their final farewells.

A video filmed for CNN in the hospital courtyard shows several body bags laid on the ground with dozens of anguished people including men, women and children crowded around their late loved ones.

People are seen crouching over the body bags, with some caressing their loved one’s lifeless bodies. At least one baby’s head can be seen sticking out of a bag, as the woman beside it shouts: “My whole family has perished.”

The baby’s uncle, Mahmoud Abu Taha, was carrying the 1-year-old’s lifeless body while talking to the camera, saying his parents had tried having children for 10 years before he was born.

“We were sitting in our homes, not doing anything. It was unexpected when they struck the house. Everyone was asleep in their beds… most of the people that were killed were displaced… they were women and children,” he said.

Lifting the baby boy’s body to the camera, Mahmoud Abu Taha cries out, “this is who they are targeting. This is their objective. This is the generation they’re looking for. This is the safe Rafah they talk about.”

Again, it's a genocide.  The world will not forget.  

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, April 30, 2024.  Students at Columbia University claim Hamilton Hall, students at the University of Texas are attacked, despite US government findings of abuse by Israeli troops there is no attempt to withdraw funding or stop supplying arms, nor is there any call for an investigation into the recently discovered mass graces.

Three US State Dept officials have resigned so far over the assault on Gaza.  Josh Paul resigned, Tariq Habash resigned and, last week, Hala Rharrit resigned.  Hala spoke about her resignation on yesterday's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED (NPR):


Let's turn now to a protest against U.S. policy in Gaza. I'm not talking about the protests unfolding on college campuses across the country. This one is unfolding within the State Department itself. An Arabic-speaking public affairs official has just resigned, the third public resignation over the Biden administration's approach to the war in Gaza. Well, her name is Hala Rharrit. She's been with the State Department for 18 years, most recently as deputy director of the Dubai Media Hub. Hala Rharrit, welcome.

HALA RHARRIT: Thank you so much, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Tell me when you started thinking about this, thinking about resigning.

RHARRIT: Well, honestly, it was quite a long process. As you mentioned, I've been a diplomat for 18 years, really my entire adult life. But the policy really became unacceptable. I was holding out, hoping to try to change things from the inside, until I realized at one point that this policy was undermining U.S. interests. It was destabilizing the Middle East. And it was indeed a failed policy. And with that, I decided that I could no longer be part of the department and decided to submit my resignation.

KELLY: Was there a specific moment? I mean, what was your breaking point?

RHARRIT: There was no real specific moment. It was just a build-up. We were undermining our entire credibility with this policy, the double standards that we were having. We could no longer talk about human rights when we were allowing and enabling the mass killing of civilians. We could no longer talk about press freedom when we remained silent on the killing of over a hundred journalists in Gaza. Everything that we had stood for was no longer relevant. I did experience a lot of silencing. I was ostracized. And it came to a point where I decided it was just - it was not possible anymore.

KELLY: You said you had been hoping to try to change things from inside. Did you write a dissent cable? Did you try to go through official channels to register your unhappiness with U.S. policy?

RHARRIT: I absolutely went through official channels to express my dissent. I wrote daily reports back to this department initially after the conflict for months, explaining and reporting and documenting how the U.S. was being seen on Pan-Arab media, how our favorability was plummeting, how we were demonized as child killers. I did this formally. I did this informally. Again, I was stopped from doing this, but I kept on doing it. It became abundantly clear that no matter what I did, no matter what other diplomats did, the policy was the policy. And most specifically, our unconditional military aid made it impossible for us to have any credibility on even the good things that we were doing.

KELLY: I want to inject that State Department spokesman Vedant Patel, another State Department spokesperson, says that Secretary of State Blinken reads all dissent cables, that Blinken wants to hear differing points of view. When you say you were ostracized, can you be specific?

RHARRIT: From the get-go, I refused to do - as a spokesperson in the region, I refused to do interviews on Gaza, not because I personally disagreed with the policy, but because I documented how this policy was undermining U.S. interests in the Arab world, how we were being called out for our double standard and how people across the region saw through our talking points and no longer believed us for lack of credibility. I was documenting how I was causing a backlash. In reaction to that, there was action taken against me, multiple actions taken against me.

KELLY: If I may, what kind of actions were taken against you?

RHARRIT: I mean, I was accused of having misconduct, that it was a conduct issue, that I was refusing to do my job. I was told get back on air or curtail or resign. Curtail means cut your assignment short. Or resign - I mean, I was given an ultimatum.

KELLY: I mentioned you are the third public resignation from the State Department. You're the first diplomat, the first foreign service officer serving overseas to resign. But out of a department of thousands, how widespread do you believe anger to be within the State Department?

RHARRIT: Well, look. I can only tell you about what I've experienced, right? But it's a very strange time in the State Department, I would say, something that I've never experienced before in my 18 years of service where people are just extremely uneasy about our policy and also extremely uneasy about the ability to speak about our policy internally. And I've never faced that before. We've always been able to talk about what's working, what's not working. We've been able to have very open and frank conversations. This has felt very, very different.

It's one War Crime after another.  And they pile up.  Take the recently discovered mass graves.  ALJAZEERA notes:

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors have reportedly gathered testimony from staff of two major hospitals in the Gaza Strip, in what is believed to be the first confirmation that ICC investigators are speaking to medical workers about possible crimes during Israel’s nearly seven-month war on the besieged territory.

The sources, who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the subject, told Reuters news agency that the investigators had interviewed staff who had worked at al-Shifa Hospital and Nasser Hospital, on the grounds of which Palestinian officials say they have discovered mass graves following the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

The sources declined to provide more details, citing concerns about the safety of potential witnesses, Reuters reported on Monday. One of the sources said that events surrounding the hospitals could become part of the investigation by the ICC, which hears criminal cases against individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression.

Last week, the United Nations human rights office said it was “horrified” by reports of mass graves found at al-Shifa and Nasser after Israeli sieges and raids that damaged the facilities, noting the “special protection” awarded to medical facilities under international law.

Let's drop back to Thursday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Gaza, medics and Civil Defense workers are still recovering bodies from mass graves found at the Nasser Medical Complex for the sixth day in a row following Israel’s siege on the hospital. Over 320 bodies have so far been discovered, including women, children, patients and medical staff, according to Al Jazeera. Another mass grave with up to 400 bodies was discovered weeks earlier at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Civil Defense officials have said bodies were found stacked together and showed indications of field executions or being buried alive. The United Nations and the European Union have called for an independent probe into the mass graves, and the White House on Wednesday also called for an investigation.

This comes as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, with at least 43 people killed over the last 24 hours, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. At least five of them were killed in the southern city of Rafah, where Israel has conducted near-daily airstrikes as it prepares for an offensive in the city.

AMY GOODMAN: A spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government told Reuters Israel is moving ahead with a ground operation in Rafah, but gave no timeline. An unnamed Israeli defense official said Israel had bought 40,000 tents, each able to hold between 10 and 12 people, to house Palestinians evacuated from Rafah ahead of its assault on the city. Israeli news outlets report Israel will forcibly evacuate civilians to the nearby city of Khan Younis, which has been virtually destroyed by Israeli forces. Over 1.3 million Palestinians are seeking shelter in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza.

We go now to Rafah, in Gaza, where we’re joined by Akram al-Satarri, a journalist based in Gaza.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Akram. Just moments ago, Palestinian officials held a press conference in Rafah regarding the mass graves at the Nasser Medical Complex. Can you tell us the latest? I know there’s a delay in the broadcast.

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Good morning, Amy, to you and all the viewers.

I have just come back from Khan Younis area. I was at Nasser Hospital. I spoke to the Civil Defense official who’s now giving this press conference about the situation in Nasser Hospital and about the number of the people who were killed, the way they were killed, and an account of the potential suffering they had been seeing even before they did.

It looks like the mass graves, the three different mass graves, are containing around 700 bodies. Up to this particular moment, around 400 bodies were unearthed and discovered. Around 300 bodies or even more are still in the ground. The bulldozer — one bulldozer, because of the very limited resources, working — is working there for the sake of just digging out the bodies.

Family members are lined up there. Family members are trying and rushing with passion and with great deal of sorrow to identify the bodies of their dears. Some of them managed to identify the bodies. Then you hear the outcry. You hear the people screaming, crying and mourning the death of their dears. But at the very same time, they feel a little bit relief, because they finally found the body of their dears.

I spoke to a mother who’s around 42, 43 years old. She was trying to identify her son. And then she found the body of her son. She was crying. The sister also, her daughter, was crying. And they were calling for the family to come and join them in the burial, because in our culture as Muslims and Arabs, we find a burial as the best fitting homage for the people who are dead.

People are continuously digging out the bodies. People are continuously — and this is very ironic — they’re trying to save the dead. People, when they die, are supposed to be resting in peace. And I was saying that people in Gaza, when they die, they’re neither resting nor in peace. The bodies, those bodies, were collected twice by the Israeli occupation forces. They were taken for some forensic investigation. They were returned to Nasser Hospital. They’re stockpiled in this very big hall, three different halls. And then they were buried. And then, a second time, the Israeli occupation forces came back to Nasser Hospital. They invaded all different departments of the hospital. They targeted the specialized surgery department, the reception and emergency. And they once again unearthed those hundreds of bodies and took them once again. And then they returned them to this mass grave or mass graves. So, the suffering even for the dead people in Gaza is still continuous.

And the heartache for their families is nonstop. Every single body that is being unearthed, you find tens of people rushing for the sake of identifying whether those are their relatives or otherwise. You see also many families looking into these individual graves in the Nasser Hospital area. You see written on the tombstone that “This guy is a tall guy. He has long hair. He’s wearing a gray shirt. And this is all we know.” And then it’s up to the family to try and to find and for people to recall what their dears were wearing the day they were parting from them, what were they wearing the day they were killed. So, a very emotionally draining process.

The numbers are quite shocking. But the account of the loss and the death that led to that eventual mass grave is extremely shocking, where some of the people — like you have just said, some of the people were tied. Some of the people had medical accessories on their hands, like the cannulas. And when they were unearthed from the ground, it was apparent that they were buried alive. Some people were tortured. Some of the bodies were extremely mutilated, which means that those bodies, some of their organs were taken by the Israeli occupation. Some lost their eyes. I could see some bodies with no eyes. I could see some bodies with no liver, with no kidney, some bodies that are — you see them, like the outer skin is just covering the skeleton, and that’s it. So, the account of that experience is quite heart-wrenching.

The families that have been suffering for the sake of just identifying their dears are also broken. They have been crying. But at least they say, “We feel comfortable because we found our dear.” So, it gives you an insight, a glimpse, into the suffering people of Gaza have been living. It gives you a glimpse into the bereavement the women, men, children and girls in Gaza have been experiencing for the last six months also.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Akram al-Satarri, just for our audience to know, you know, whenever we speak to you, we have — there’s this constant noise around you, and those are drones, of course, flying overhead, as they have been for months now. But if you could respond? You know, the European Union, the United Nations and now also the United States have called for an independent investigation into these mass graves. So, your response to that? And we’re speaking to you in Rafah. If you could also describe what conditions there are on the ground?

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, as to the independent scrutiny or investigation committee that needs to be developed, I’ve been working in journalism for around 16 years now. I have been hearing about the independent committees, commissions, inquiries, fact-finding committees and international reports and tribunals about the situation in Gaza, looking into the particular details of the incidents that were taking place, investigating the death of several people in mass killing incidents, including the war in 2008, the war in 2014 and the war in 2021. I have been hearing a book about Gaza and the war in Gaza from 2014, and I was reading the exact words that I’m going to say now: “Palestinians struggle to dig out the bodies.” So, this is something that happened in 2014. This is something that happened in 2008. This is something that happened in ’21, ’22 and is still happening throughout 2023 and 2024.

The international community has failed to preserve and — to preserve and observe the dictates of the international humanitarian law. The humanity at large is facing a challenge. All the political systems worldwide are asked now and expected to do something tangible for the sake of just saving the Gaza Strip. Rhetoric is no longer needed. Rhetoric is no longer satisfactory. We need them to do something tangible to stop the things that are happening in Gaza.

Some of the things that Gazans are suggesting, the no-fly zone to protect the civilians in Gaza. Some of the things that Gazans are suggesting, that Israel should be held accountable for what they call crimes that were committed against the humanity, against people, against civilians. The international humanitarian law is rich with terms and vocab that are related to the, what they call the civil objects, civil objects that are protected, journalists that are protected, medical teams that are supposed to be protected, medical facilities that are supposed also to be protected. But when you review the shocking numbers about the way that the journalists are being killed, for instance, the medical teams are being killed, for instance, you conclude that the international community is failing so far to do something tangible, rather than the statements, the condemnations, the calls for independent inquiries or commissions to look into the investigation. We need something tangible. And that something tangible has not been achieved so far. And Gazans have been dying constantly because of that.

Something should be done. Something swift should be done. Otherwise, the death would continue. Now in Gaza today, 79 people were killed. And an average number of around 65 to 79 is killed every day. And if nothing is done, this means the international community accepts the killing of Gazans and accepts the justification of Israel to continue that killing. [coughs] Sorry.

And when it comes to the situation in Rafah, in Rafah, around 1.4 to 1.2 million, because of the influx of people from Rafah in the last few days. People are so scared because of the looming ground operation. They understand that the Israeli occupation is going to target them, and they understand that death would be chasing them. So some of them moved from Rafah. Around 150,000 Gazans have already left Rafah and moved to the area in al-Mawasi, a buffer zone between Rafah and Khan Younis, in the hope that they would survive. The ones who are in Rafah and the ones who are in Khan Younis and the ones in Gaza, at the entirety of Gaza, are all IDPs, around 2.1 million IDPs, because of the destruction of the infrastructure, the destruction of the homes, the destruction of the streets, and because of the continuous bombardment that has been taking their life. And those people are living in areas that have no infrastructure. No infrastructure means that they don’t have water supplies that are regular. They don’t have sewage systems. They don’t have food. They don’t have even drinkable water with which they can cook the food. They don’t have houses. They’re living in tents. And today is a very hot day. Today and yesterday were very hot days in this specific season. And now people in the tents are struggling. They are sweating all day. The children that have respiratory — even the adults that have some respiratory disorders are suffering more than any other people, and this suffering is continuous.

And this situation, when it comes to the humanitarian situation in Gaza, is unbearable, unimaginable and unacceptable. When I tell you the situation is unimaginable, because, for me, some parts of Gaza and some part of those camps that I have seen, the suffering of the people is unimaginable. You will see them living just by the minimum, and even there is no minimum. And they have no other choice to continue living and waiting and hoping some solution would be developed or concluded sometime soon. This is the truth about the situation, something I have never seen in my life, let alone someone who’s living thousands of miles away from Gaza.

People are buried in the streets. People are buried on the pavement. People are buried everywhere, in their homes. And some of the bodies, around 10,000 bodies, are in Gaza, are still under the rubble, and they have not been retrieved so far. You walk down the streets, and you smell death everywhere. You go to the hospital, that is supposed to be the temple of protection and humanity, you find the hospital totally devastated by death. You find the patients, who were supposed to be receiving the medical treatments, buried within the hospital. And you smell their decomposed bodies after the bodies were desecrated and unearthed. And wherever you turn your face, you see the children, you see the adults, you see the women and the men, the girls and the boys, suffering from that unjust situation that is still continuous. And no one single international power could stop that or bring an end to that ongoing suffering and misery.

AMY GOODMAN: Akram al-Satarri, we want to thank you so much for being with us. Be safe. Akram is a Gaza-based journalist, speaking to us from Rafah.

Mass graves discovered.  But no call from the US government for investigations.  Arwa Mahdawi (GUARDIAN) notes this strange refusal:

Did you know that the Palestinians are the very first people in the world to ethnically cleanse and mass murder themselves? I know it sounds weird, but – as American and Israeli politicians keep reminding us – these are “savages” that we are talking about here. Normal rules don’t apply, you’ve got to follow the Palestine Rules.

The Palestine Rules dictate you do the following: ignore every international agency if that agency says anything remotely critical about Israel. Certainly don’t listen to international aid agencies like Oxfam when they argue that the government of Israel is “deliberately blocking and/or undermining the international humanitarian response in the Gaza Strip”. Nope, the fact that babies in Gaza are dying of malnutrition is all their fault. The fact that children in Gaza are starving at the fastest rate the world has ever known is nothing to do with Israel, it’s the fault of those pesky Palestinians.

The fact that there are an unprecedented number of child amputees in Gaza is the Palestinians’ fault. Let’s be very clear here: if every single Palestinian had fled the land they were born in back in 1948, when Israel was founded, if they’d just completely renounced their Palestinian identity, none of the horrors currently unfolding in Gaza and the West Bank would be happening. Can’t argue with that logic, can you?

You know what’s also the Palestinians’ fault? Those mass graves that have recently been discovered at the ruins of hospitals in Gaza. “Among the deceased were allegedly older people, women and wounded, while others were found tied with their hands … tied and stripped of their clothes,” said Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, last week.

It shouldn’t be remotely controversial to say that when you discover evidence suggesting gross violations of international law have occurred, then there should be an immediate independent investigation. And yet, the Palestine Rules have kicked in once again: Israel has said they didn’t do anything wrong – arguing that it’s all “fake news” and saying the Palestinians dug their own graves. The Biden administration, meanwhile, has said it trusts Israel to look into its own affairs. 

While US officials have called for Israel to “thoroughly and transparently” investigate reports of mass graves they have refused to call for an independent investigation. Why, one has to wonder, the reluctance to investigate? If it’s really all “fake news” then Israel and the US should welcome a proper investigation. Nothing screams “covering up war crimes” like insisting that there should absolutely not be an independent investigation.

The stench of death filled the halls of Gaza City’s Ahli Arab Hospital.

Bodies – many already decomposing – lay in heaps on the floor, next to injured patients writhing in pain.

Amid the chaos and suffering, one of Naifa Rizq al-Sawada’s relatives was methodically searching for signs of the family’s 92-year-old matriarch.

Naifa had gone missing more than two weeks earlier, in late March, after the Israeli army raided the family’s home near another Gaza City health complex, al-Shifa, and ordered everyone to leave.

Naifa hadn’t been seen since, and Israel’s intense military assault in northern Gaza had made gathering information on her whereabouts next to impossible.

"Did anyone arrive here that fits her description?" Naifa’s relative recalled asking hospital administrators after reaching Ahli Hospital, insisting on seeing any bodies resembling the elderly woman’s slender frame.

"'Uncover this one' – that's a man. 'Uncover this one' – that's a little girl. 'Uncover this one' – that's a child," said the relative, who spoke to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity due to a fear of reprisals.

“I went to a different department, all the same – indescribable scenes that I will never forget.”

The family’s sombre search finally ended days later when, after returning to the seven-storey Gaza City building where Naifa was last seen, they uncovered charred bone fragments they believe belong to her.

The US has found five units of the Israeli security forces responsible for gross violations of human rights, over incidents in the West Bank before the current Gaza war, the state department has said.

The findings come at a time when Israel is facing potential accountability from the international criminal court and the state department for its conduct of the conflict in Gaza, in which more than 34,000 people have been killed.

The units found to be involved in abuses in the West Bank are mostly from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) but include at least one police unit. They have not been sanctioned, however, the state department said.

Four of the units were judged to have carried out effective remedial action after the US state department shared its findings with Israel.

The fifth, an ultra-orthodox military unit known as Netzah Yehuda, drawn in part from West Bank settlers, was about to be blacklisted earlier this month under the Leahy laws, which ban US funding of any foreign military units involved in atrocities.

The unit had carried out no apparent remedial action despite having been alerted to the abuses and Israeli government lawyers had ignored communications about the issue for months, according to US officials.

Shortly before the sanctions were due to be announced, however, Israeli government lawyers urgently contacted Washington and insisted that under the current 10-year US memorandum of understanding governing military relations with Israel signed in 2018, Israel should be given more time to respond to the US finding. US officials stressed that Leahy sanctions remained under consideration.

And still the government of Israel gets billions of US tax dollars and still the Israeli government gets arms and weapons from the US.  

Are you getting why students are protesting yet?  War Crimes are being carried out and the US government is supporting those War Crimes with money and with action.  

Columbia University is the campus that kicked off the national wave of student protests.  ALJAZEERA reported early this morning:

The response of the authorities has been tough, with critics of the protests referring to sporadic instances of anti-Semitism. About 100 protesters were arrested at Columbia on April 18.

In the latest crackdown, authorities at the prestigious university in New York had demanded that the protest encampment be cleared by 2pm (18:00 GMT) or students would face disciplinary action.

“These repulsive scare tactics mean nothing compared to the deaths of over 34,000 Palestinians,” said a statement, read out by a student at a news conference after the deadline passed, referring to the death toll in Gaza.

Dozens of protesters seized Hamilton Hall in the early hours of Tuesday morning, moving metal gates to barricade the doors, blocking entrances with wooden tables and chairs, and zip-tying doors shut.

Protestors carrying barricades entered Hamilton through the leftmost door of the building at approximately 12:30 a.m. Shortly after, a protester broke the window of the rightmost door of Hamilton as dozens more formed a human barricade directly outside the Hamilton doors. Within minutes, protesters sealed Hamilton while hundreds more flooded in front of the building.

At around 1:40 a.m., protesters inside Hamilton unfurled a banner reading “Hind’s Hall”—renaming Hamilton after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian killed by the Israeli military in Gaza.

The occupation came nearly two weeks after University President Minouche Shafik authorized the New York Police Department to sweep the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on April 18, leading to the largest mass arrest on campus since 1968, when student protesters also occupied Hamilton and over 80 people inside were arrested.

A University spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The University announced at 8:05 a.m. on Monday, that negotiations between student demonstrators and the University had reached an impasse, and Columbia University Apartheid Divest warned of escalating action in a Monday post to the coalition’s Substack.

Meanwhile, at the University of Texas?  ALJAZEERA reports:

At UT Austin, an attorney said at least 40 demonstrators had been arrested on Monday on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct, some of them by officers in riot gear who encircled about 100 sitting protesters, dragging or carrying them out one by one amid screams. Another group of demonstrators trapped police and a van full of detainees between buildings, creating a mass of bodies pushing and shoving and prompting the officers to use pepper spray and flash-bang devices to clear the crowd.

The confrontation was an escalation on the 53,000-student campus in the state’s capital, where more than 50 protestors were arrested last week.

The university late on Monday issued a statement saying that many of Monday’s protesters were not affiliated with the school and that encampments are prohibited on campus. The school also alleged that some demonstrators were “physically and verbally combative” with university staff, prompting officials to call law enforcement.

Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro, reporting from UT Austin, described the clashes as an “extraordinary turn of events”.

“What began as a silent protest on Monday morning by faculty in opposition to the way UT Austin administration has been responding to these protests has now erupted into conflict,” she said. “The 43 arrested were part of the encampment that began this afternoon, with people setting up tents and forming a circle around it, refusing to disperse. We saw police descend on those protesters just moments after the tents went up. The police encircled them, began arresting them one by one, picking them up off the ground and dragging them away from the line.”

As soon as police cleared the encampment, other students began rallying on the area, said Zhou-Castro. Some of them were holding umbrellas to protect against pepper spray. Police, too, were out in force, blocking the path to the area where the encampment had stood.

 AP adds, "The protests have even spread to Europe, with French police removing dozens of students from the Sorbonne university after pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the main courtyard. In Canada, student protest camps have popped up at the University of Ottawa, McGill University in Montreal and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, The Canadian Press reported."  And Eduardo Cuevas, John Bacon and Jorge L. Ortiz (USA TODAY) report:

Author Pam Zhang and educator Safiya Noble have withdrawn as keynote speakers at the University of Southern California's Rossier’s doctoral and master’s commencement ceremonies. In an open letter to the school, Zhang and Noble criticized USC for failing to conduct good-faith talks with student protesters and for bringing armed LAPD officers onto campus to break up a pro-Palestinian encampment.

The duo also lashed out at USC for canceling a commencement speech by valedictorian Asna Tabassum after pro-Israel groups objected to Tabassum's support for Palestinians on social media. USC later canceled its primary undergraduate commencement, but some satellite ceremonies are taking place.

“To speak at USC in this moment would betray not only our own values, but USC’s too … We cannot overlook the link between recent developments and the ongoing genocide in Palestine,” Zhang and Noble said.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 207 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "At least 34,535 Palestinians have been killed and 77,704 have been wounded in Israel's military offensive in Gaza since October 7, the Gaza Health Ministry said on Tuesday. In the past 24 hours, 47 people were killed and 61 injured, the ministry added."   Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."

The following sites updated: